chaos

Could macronism be a harmonic of disorder?

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The new president, his new government, his new assembly, are attracting all the attention and everyone is trying to identify what what is made of what will have to be called macronism. The political innovation seems real, and many people are taken aback by it. What should we think of this so-called "Jupiterian" presidency, of this mania for the "macronism"? meanwhile The question of "the implacable hullabaloo that volatilizes the political landscape, of the question of national representation revolutionized by the disappearance of the binary right/left code that seemed eternal? What philosophy underlies the new politics in a chaotic world? How to govern a society that was perceived as ungovernable, woven of contradictions and divergent interests? What if Emmanuel Macron was inventing a new way of governing complex societies?
 
Aoday's societies are marked by a particular character: their single decision-making centre, the State, has gradually found itself in competition within a multidimensional and polycentric space. Less well known than liberal theorists such as Hayek or Popper, Michael Polanyi is the one who has most inspired research on polycentrism.

Polycentrism and hierarchy

Polanyi observes that polycentrism exists at several levels of reality, be it biological, physical or intellectual. The posture reflex system that allows the human body to remain in balance, to sit or walk, solves polycentric tasks. The human wisdom that Kant defined as "the ability to harmonize all the purposes of life" is also polycentric. So is any artistic work whose purpose is to build a polycentric harmony that is unique to it. Drawing his idea from the spontaneous orders observed in nature, Polanyi transposes a highly original theory of complex organizations into the social realm. Polycentrism then designates societies in which different functional spheres coexist autonomously. Politics, law, economics, art, religion, ... are all domains that possess an autonomous logic and jealously preserve their integrity. In contemporary liberal ideology, the economic sphere, for example, is disproportionate and views any intrusion of politics into its domain with great disfavour - unless it is useful to it. In the same way that politics - at least in Europe - does not tolerate any religious intrusion into its own. Spheres may relate to each other, but under no circumstances can one sphere theoretically consider itself preponderant over the other. There is no hierarchy in the world of spheres, but rather an architecture that is more like that of networks. The complexity of societies does not come from the number of spheres involved or the size of some of them, but from this polycentric organization.
 
Until two or three decades ago, society had a major, if not exclusive, decision-making centre - the political power of the state - and peripheral functional spheres. The complexity of our contemporary societies stems exactly from the diversification of decision-making centres corresponding, on the one hand, to a functional differentiation of social systems and, on the other hand, to the globalisation of decision-making bodies. No hierarchical organisation can then control this multiplicity of decision-making centres. The idea that a single central authority can have access to a synoptic knowledge of the whole of social reality is an illusion. However, many ideologies based on social constructivism (holism, socialism, collectivism) are based on this illusion. Contemporary political thought explores this same field of analysis in a different way by developing the notion of responsiveness, which almost replaces the notion of representation. The latter is then no longer assessed in terms of identity but in the form of the construction of a link between the preferences of citizens and the decisions of those in power. In this logic on which the notions of authenticity or accountability (accountability), there would be a close correlation - and ideally a symbiosis - between the will of the people and the political choices of those in power. These conceptions of society directly apply Cartesian rationalism to social problems, without seeing that, despite the limited rationality of social actors, most functional spheres develop without the intervention of a deliberate human project.
 
For Max Weber, an eminent thinker of the complexity of societies, the organization of society corresponds to the model of the mechanical machines of his century. He believes that in a world marked by industrialization, in which authority rests essentially on competence and the search for efficiency, the pyramidal division of labour is the ideal means of resolving social complexity. The major functions of a society are thus broken down into partial tasks, each of which finds its place in a hierarchically structured scaffolding with bureaucratic organization as its paragon. For Weber, bureaucracy represents the standard model of rational and legal authority. This form of organisation is based on abstract rules, which are formal because they are written and impersonal. The holders of authority are chosen on the basis of rationally assessed competences. They act within a functional hierarchy in which controls and remedies are precisely defined. This model of organization works in a certain type of social organization, but it does not work well in systems whose elements are both intertwined and disjointed. It is even less applicable when the effectiveness of action on certain global problems requires the harmonious cooperation of different functional systems.
 
In today's complex societies, any strategy for dealing with major issues, if based on a hierarchical and monocentric architecture, is doomed to failure. Indeed, the order of pyramidal logic has linear dynamics. It ignores anything that closely or remotely resembles lateral effects or exponential extensions. There is no orthogonal dimension in a hierarchical plane. Hierarchical logic reasons in causal chains and ignores loops and interconnections in networks. It focuses on details and immediate actions but ignores perspectives and big picture visions. Hierarchical logic is binary, it is yes or no, all or nothing. Its apprehension of reality is univocal, which often leads to radical positions that are ineffective or counterproductive in a complex universe.

At the same time "

Societies based on a hierarchical model hate disorder; they see order as the opposite of chaos. But in a complex system, perfect order, i.e. the total absence of movement between the elements of the whole, is called death, or at least blockage. A complex society has an excessively large number of relationships, many of which are arbitrary and contradictory. Seeking order in this living whole leads to the system coming to a standstill. Are we condemned to anarchy for all that? Certainly not because there is a relatively large space between anarchy and absolute order in which the right measure can be found. To seek order in a complex society is to find a balance between chaos and perfect order, because both are ungovernable. In this situation, macronism seems to make no claim to seek unity, but rather, in a more creative rather than dirigiste approach, the harmony of differences. The framework of thought of this policy is not classical logic but the structure of chaos. This raises the problem of managing contradiction, which is one of the foundations of democracy.
 
In classical logic, the contradiction is the warning signal that one is going in the wrong direction or that an error has occurred in the reasoning. This logic has, over the last few decades, been challenged by physicists who are discovering situations in which contradiction is irreducible. For example, it is impossible to make a definitive decision between a corpuscular or wave-like conception of a particle. This contradiction is then considered as a complementary notion that must be accepted and enter into the reasoning to approach knowledge. This problem, which agitates the natural sciences but also the human sciences, leads to the idea that binary Aristotelian logic is no longer sufficient and that it must be replaced by versatile logics, which transgress classical logic. Of course, one can return to classical logic in the treatment of complex phenomena, but only to validate sequences and never the totality. This means that classical logic is retrospective, it allows us to correct errors, at the scale of the sequence, but as soon as it is a question of movement, of overall dynamics, or of creativity, it proves to be insufficient.
 
In our contemporary societies, complexity is perceived as a fog of confusion, as uncertainty, as a misunderstanding irreducible to logic. Yet complexity is a major challenge that most successive governments invariably undertake to meet. But they will never be able to keep this promise because the reality is not the same. Indeed, complexity has two fundamental nodes: an empirical node and a logical node. The empirical core of complexity is the disorders, the hazards, the complications, the entangled situations, the proliferating diversities of situations. The logical nucleus is formed by the contradictions that must be faced and by the parts of indecidabilities internal to logic. If we stop at this stage of reflection, we immediately think that complexity is regressive since it introduces a large part of uncertainty into a knowledge that has always sought absolute certainty. However, such an absolute does not exist. It is a fable invented to reassure men. Complexity is not regressive but, on the contrary, extraordinarily progressive because it requires the implementation of a new political thought, a creative thought that admits that not everything is quantifiable, measurable and manageable. A thought that recognises the anthroposocial reality as naturally multidimensional, biological, individual and social at the same time. A political thought that understands that the disciplines that seek to think and govern people - psychology, sociology, economics, law, demography, etc. - are not only the same, but also have their own particularities. A political thought that understands that the disciplines that seek to think and govern men - psychology, sociology, economics, law, demography, etc. - are not separate categories but that they represent several sides of the same reality. This multidimensional thinking dear to Edgar Morin entails the imperative need to introduce dialogue - which is one of the keys to political innovation.
 
The dialogic underlying Macron's famous "at the same time" means that two logics, or two natures, or two principles, can be perfectly linked in one unity, without duality being lost in this unity. In other words, differences and contradictions can coexist and form a unity without ever losing their specificity. Dialogical thinking includes the idea that antagonisms are stimulators and regulators. Adopting a dialogical approach in politics means instituting the safeguarding of diversity, organizing and regulating the interplay of antagonisms of interests, ideas, conceptions, opinions, so that these contradictions can become creative and productive. Unlike dialectics, which is a conceptual tool for resolving contradictions in order to pierce the truth, dialogics, on the contrary, confronts complexity and does not seek to resolve the multidimensionality of the dispute with the real.

Harmonizing the mess

The fundamental dilemma of macronism is that it has to coordinate disparities and harmonize, as it were, disorder, but without the support of a supreme authority - as the perfectly sovereign state could be - without an assertive and exclusive decision-making centre. Indeed, in complex societies, the multiplicity of functional spheres and their intricacy in the social game make it impossible to know clearly and absolutely which sphere is predominant for the legitimacy of action. Is the economic superior to the political, or is it law, social or scientific? There is no hierarchical point of view that decides the supremacy of one or the other of the functional spheres. From then on, everyone sees noon at their door. Each sphere gives primacy to its own function and considers other functional systems in particular and society in general as its environment. Each sphere thus has its own ecology. The mode of development of today's complex societies has pushed this mechanism to the extreme and has progressively modified it by transforming the dialogic modality that should underlie it into a hologrammatic modality. This means that, just like a hologram where the whole is in the part that itself is in the whole, each sphere claims to include the whole society in its perimeter of functionality. In this perspective, there is always a principle of unity but which is diffracted into a multitude of units of diverse origins. Each sphere projects its unity of society according to its particular logic. Politics is no exception to this rule.
 
What value, then, is to be placed on a representation of society that is merely the reflection projected by one sphere among others? For a long time, politics, then economics, projected their predominant logic on society as a whole. Today, it is the media that is involved in this competition. Tomorrow, science, health, or religion, or art, will be able to do so just as well. When a part takes itself for the whole, it conceals a specificity of any complex social system: the interdependence and intertwining of various functions. If there is a crisis in politics today, it is because of the impossibility of defining which of the functional spheres is the dominant one. But this question is futile because defining one sphere rather than another is contrary to the characteristic of the complex societies in which we live. None of them can play, with unquestionable legitimacy, the role of creator, keystone and protector of the unity of society.
 
If macronism wants to innovate, it will have to coordinate and integrate these different specialized spheres while regulating the centrifugal movement of their possibilities. The task is particularly difficult because each functional sphere is constantly increasing its autonomy and producing, by its very structure, an ever-increasing quantity of possibilities. This phenomenon increases the impression of complexity - even confusion - of the societal whole. Multiple and numerous functional spheres produce an overabundance of functional subsystems and possibilities, each in its own domain. The most trivial example is that of the informational media sphere, which has almost reached saturation point in the production of information. The same applies to the legislative sphere, which produces more laws and standards than it can enforce. The push to the extreme of specialization and efficiency of functional spheres leads to a situation where turbulence, the risks involved and the dangers of self-destruction lead to uncontrollable situations. This overproduction of possibilities without coordination or constraint from any external decision-making centre forces us to be reduced to hoping that the systems can exclude from themselves, from within, non-viable or extremely risky pipelines.
 
The task of the politician is, under these conditions, to confront the functional systems with their overload of possibilities and to regulate the centrifugal dynamics that animate them. This last point is the most sensitive because each functional system considers reality from its own point of view, ignoring the fact that other criteria may come into play. For example, the economy is obsessed with its own criteria of profitability or opportunity but has great difficulty in integrating into its logic the criteria of other spheres such as ethics, social obligations, environmental risks, health, and many others.
 
The functional spheres thus have no loyalty to society. They are closed systems that have their own logic of functioning, development and reproduction. It is precisely this inability to perceive the totality that paradoxically makes them effective. Innovative politics will therefore not seek to carry out an impossible task by trying to regulate, from outside, the functional spheres, which are by nature closed in on themselves. Nor can it claim to be the guarantor of a general unity against particular interests. The can no longer claim to be the representative of the unity of society simply because this unity does not exist and because hierarchical predominance has disappeared with the emergence of complex systems.

Point of reflexivity

This question of the search for an exogenous point capable of bringing order to complexity is not new; it is a real quest for the Grail that many thinkers have carried out throughout the ages. In his time, Leibniz had observed that monads 'had no windows' and could not communicate with each other. The search for an entity capable of giving an order, a programming of all the monads, has therefore stimulated all great minds. Is it God, Adam Smith's "invisible hand", Hegel's "cunning of reason", holism? Many have sought an illusory structure of the totality, an external fixed point. Jacques Derrida, in his deconstructivist approach, wondered what would happen if one were to remove from one's mind the idea that this fixed point, this "centered structure" could exist. Without a keystone, would the system collapse? Does Nietzsche's cry "God is dead" call for eternal chaos, the end of the beauty of the world, of its meaning and purpose? Complexity theory provides an innovative response to this anguish: to replace this external fixed point of monadology, which proves to be illusory, with an endogenous fixed point, produced by the action of men within the spheres themselves, but which, through a mechanism of self-exteriorization, presents itself as an external point of reference, capable of orienting action.
 
Order and disorder then appear as the manifestation of the same mechanism, the passage from one to the other corresponding to the substitution of an endogenous fixed point of view by another. It is then no longer necessary to resort to "tricks of reason" to think about order or to fear disorder, which can sometimes be organized in stable forms. This question is not only philosophical; it is the crux of the metamorphosis of politics.
 
Montesquieu, in his theory of the separation of powers, had masterfully dismantled the workings of this problem of the self-exteriorization of the social. Jean-Pierre Dupuy indeed reminds us that, according to the author of L'Esprit des lois, power is necessarily destined to be abused and thus to oppose freedom. It must therefore be divided in order to neutralize itself and render itself powerless. But, if the three powers - executive, legislative, judicial - prevent each other, who will decide? Hobbes and Rousseau would answer "the Sovereign". Montesquieu, as a visionary of the most current complex theories, proposes another answer: "These three powers should form a rest or inaction. But since, by the necessary movement of things, they are forced to go, they will be forced to go together. "What Montesquieu explains here is that decisions must be taken, but that they will be taken through the interplay of procedures of negotiation, of seeking compromises, between antagonistic powers. "It may be that the final decision does not correspond to the will of any one of them, or may even be contrary to each of their wills. There is a collective decision, but no entity, not even the "collectivity", can be said to be the subject of it. "A collective order can thus be born independently of the will of individuals and without necessarily resulting from the will of a supra-individual entity. In this characteristic process of open innovation, the social has thus self-exteriorized.
 
Politics is now situated at another level, that of the social context; in the complex reality, it outlines areas of autonomy and axes of coordination. It implements a reflexive policy, i.e. a policy that allows each functional system to self-exteriorize, to situate itself not in relation to a pre-established unit or order, but in relation to a mobile and changing context, which the politician is then the only one who must identify and designate to all parties. It is in this context that the individuals, the multiple human beings that make up society and form the "problematic limits" of the different functional systems, are situated.
 
Through this reflexive policy, functional systems are encouraged by politics to become aware that they are important elements of the environment of other social systems with which they interact, of society in particular and of the world in general. In this logic, macronism will have to focus on demonstrating that self-regulation mechanisms, usually implemented by functional systems for themselves, can be developed also, with the same efficiency and in a non-zero-sum game, to the external dynamics that bind the whole society and that make up its environment. This new dimension of politics certainly reduces its possibilities of authoritatively directing and controlling the structures of society; on the other hand, it gives it a major creative function that can only increase its importance: that of structuring, in a reflexive demand, the underlying form that allows the contents of society to unfold.
 
 
This text is largely extracted from Political creativity! by Gérard Ayache, UP' Editions
 

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